In the pursuit of extending healthy human lifespans, scientists have achieved a remarkable breakthrough that marks a significant milestone in the field. Researchers from Taipei Medical University in Taiwan have uncovered a genetic modification in mice that can empower cancer-killing cells, increasing their effectiveness by two to seven times while extending their lifespan by up to 20 percent.
Building upon last year’s groundbreaking study, the scientists have now successfully replicated these extraordinary outcomes in ordinary mice through a single transplant of blood stem cells. The findings, published in the scientific journal Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, hold immense importance, according to Che-Kun James Shen, the lead researcher of the study. He believes that these findings could have profound implications for human health and anticipates that clinical trials could commence as early as the end of this year or next year.
The initial discovery involved identifying an amino acid, known as KLF1, that, when altered, preserves the youthful characteristics of the mice. This includes improved motor function, enhanced learning and memory, as well as more effective anti-cancer cells. Additionally, the mice exhibited darker and shinier hair, and a significant reduction in fibrosis—a process associated with impaired organ functioning that occurs during aging.
Now, the research team has successfully transferred the benefits of the KLF1 amino acid to non-mutant mice through stem cell transplants. Stem cell transplants are commonly used in the treatment of certain blood cancers. Leveraging this breakthrough, Shen and his team aim to genetically modify human stem cells with KLF1 to enhance cancer-killing cells and reduce the risk of cancer resurgence. Furthermore, this gene intervention could potentially extend human lifespan.
Unlike previous mouse models that showcased gender biases and side effects, Shen’s approach demonstrates no such limitations. The KLF1 trials have proven successful across various genetic backgrounds of mice, suggesting a universal impact that could extend to humans. Remarkably, only a partial substitution of 20 to 30 percent of bone marrow is sufficient to make the mice resistant to cancer.
The enhanced cancer-killing abilities observed in the mice with the genetic modification are attributed to biological changes resulting from the gene manipulation. Notably, T cells and natural killer (NK) cells carrying the amino acid substitution exhibit significantly higher cancer cell-killing capabilities, ranging from two to seven times higher than normal mice.
Recognizing that the genetic modification is primarily expressed in blood cells, the researchers conducted experiments by injecting specific types of blood cells from the mutant mice into wild mice, yielding promising results. This raises the possibility of performing cancer-fighting bone marrow transplantations in humans in the near future, although ethical considerations must be carefully addressed.
The research team is actively working to capitalize on these findings and enhance cancer therapies for humans, harnessing the potential of this genetic breakthrough. With the hope of extending healthy human lifespans and improving cancer treatment outcomes, this remarkable advancement brings us closer to a future where these benefits can be realized.
By Impact Lab